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'Choose Life' license plates selling well

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ About 40 license plates promoting adoption with the ``Choose Life'' slogan have been issued to Oklahomans since the plates became available last week.

That's pretty good for a specialty plate that has only been available for a few days, Paula Ross, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, said Thursday.

``Usually they don't go that fast,'' Ross said. ``But we've kept those applications out because we've had so many requests.''

The yellow plates with the faces of children painted on them were championed by Lori Sowers, a former crisis pregnancy worker and Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, who filed legislation to create the plates.

In other states, the license plates have prompted a debate between pro-abortion and anti-abortion groups. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the plates in Louisiana.

Oklahoma is one of seven states to issue the Choose Life plates.

Gus Oliver, a Tulsa real estate agent, was the third Oklahoman issued a Choose Life license plate, after Balkman and Sowers.

For Oliver, a collector of novelty license plates, the plate was a personal celebration of his 8-year-old daughter's life.

``Our daughter is adopted and we're real thankful that the birth mother decided to give the baby life,'' Oliver said. ``That gives it extra special meaning to us.''

The specialty plates cost $25. Of that fee, $20 will go to crisis pregnancy centers and nonprofit adoption agencies.

Agencies would submit applications and the funds will be distributed annually.

Family planning organizations that offer abortion will not be eligible for the money.

``It would be kind of self-defeating to give money to an agency that counsels women on abortion,'' Sowers said. ``I thought this plate could be a bridge between pro-life and pro-choice. I think we're both for adoption and it is a choice.''

S.J. McIlwain, external affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, said it's not fair for one side of the abortion debate to have a license plate that's not available to the other side.

``We don't have problem with the Choose Life license plate, it's the fact that we don't have a pro-choice license plate,'' McIlwain said.

Supporters of the plates say their message isn't a political one.

``I think the message choose life is a very positive one,'' Oliver said. ``I guess if people wanted a plate that said Choose Death they could lobby for that. I understand the politics of it, but it has a positive message.''

McIlwain said Planned Parenthood would like to discuss with legislators the possibility of creating a pro-choice license plate for Oklahoma.

``I think it's a fairness and a diversity issue. It's giving an opportunity to pro-life and not to pro-choice,'' McIlwain said. ``That affects a lot of individuals and not just our organization, because there isn't a choice, if I wanted a pro-choice license plate, I can't get one.''
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